Mighty Earth Report Shows Who’s Responsible For Largest ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – A new report by Mighty Earth shows what is responsible for the widespread manure and fertilizer pollution, causing one of the largest ‘Dead Zone’ on record in the Gulf of Mexico this year made headlines globally. Much of this pollution comes from the vast quantities of corn and soy used to raise livestock, which has contaminated water from the Heartland of America to the Gulf. Toxins from manure and fertilizer pouring into waterways are intensifying harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Nutrients flowing into streams, rivers and the ocean from agriculture and wastewater stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which then decomposes. This results in the lack of oxygen in the water, causing marine life either to flee or to die. Some creatures, such as shrimp, suffer stunted growth.

Mighty’s research analyzed supply chains of agribusiness and pollution trends, and found that a “highly industrialized and centralized factory farm system” was resulting in vast tracts of native grassland in the mid-west being converted into soy and corn to feed livestock. Stripped soils can wash away in the rain, bringing fertilisers into waterways. America’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods stood out for its footprint in all the regions suffering the worst pollution impacts from industrial meat and feed production.

Tyson produces one out of every five pounds of meat produced in the States, owning brands like Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, and Sara Lee in addition to selling to fast food retailers like McDonalds. Yet, while the company is ranked among the top US polluters, its new CEO has said that a focus on sustainability will be at the center of the company’s future plans. The report urges Tyson and other firms to use their influence in the supply chain to ensure that grain producers use practices that reduce pollution flowing into waterways. These systems include not leaving soil uncovered by crops and being more efficient with fertilizers so plants are not soaked in too many chemicals.

“Americans should not have to choose between producing food and having healthy clean water”, says Mighty Earth campaign director Lucia von Reusner. “This report shows that our nation’s largest meat companies shape our food system on a massive scale, and can implement the solutions needed to make meat less polluting.” Mighty Earth, a global environmental campaign organization, has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies, and practices.

The meat industry in America has created what is expected to be the worst “dead zone” on record in the Gulf of Mexico. Last year the United States Geological Survey reported that around 1.15 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution flowed into the Gulf of Mexico; in comparison, the BP oil spill was 670,800 metric tons, which is not an annually occurring event.

Photo Credit: Mighty Earth